Ford Fiesta review
The Ford Fiesta is an excellent supermini that appeals to enthusiastic drivers and economy-minded families alike
This is Britain’s best-selling car. In fact, not only does the Ford Fiesta regularly top the new car sales charts every month, it’s also Britain’s best-selling car of all time – a milestone it reached in mid-2014 thanks to the company selling more than four million of them since 1976.
The Fiesta is also Auto Express’s Best Supermini of the Year 2014 – it won the same award in 2013 too – and it has earned that accolade by its fantastic combination of snazzy looks, low running costs and value-for-money packaging all wrapped up in a car that delivers best-in-class driving thrills.
Despite rivals updating the Vauxhall Corsa and Volkswagen Polo in 2014, the Fiesta would still be our choice. No doubt one of the reasons for its continuing appeal to us and to UK car buyers is the vast range of models that are on offer. From the entry-level Style and Studio models through to sporty Zetec and Zetec S to the posh Titanium X derivatives, Ford has a Fiesta for everyone.
There’s even a super-green ECOnetic for those who have running costs as their number one priority, and there’s also the 180bhp Fiesta ST hot hatchback. The latter is widely regarded as one of the best cars of its type currently on sale, while for those after fun but have a budget, Ford introduced the Red and Black Edition models during 2014 which can be considered as ‘warm’ hatchbacks.
Another major appealing feature of the Fiesta range is the wide spectrum of engines on offer. Grabbing the headlines is the 1.0-litre turbocharged three-cylinder thanks to its strong efficiency figures, but there are diesels and high-powered petrols as well.
All of this is backed up great finance offers and a large dealer network.
Our choice: 1.0T EcoBoost Zetec
As it’s such a common sight in the UK, it’s a good job the Fiesta has a rather striking design. The overall style is sporty and dramatic when compared to its closest rivals rivals, with a rising waistline that gives the Ford a rakish profile.
The Zetec - the best selling model in the Ford Fiesta range - gets some extra glamour courtesy of its 15-inch alloys, front foglights, additional chrome trim and body-coloured door handles and mirrors as standard kit. However, you’ll have to choose the range-topping and (and subsequently more expensive) Titanium or Titanium X model if you want LED daytime running lights.
In the middle of 2014, Ford released Red and Black Edition versions of the Fiesta. These get a 138bhp 1.0 EcoBoost engine and a styling makeover that is based around either red or black paint. The Black Edition gets a mostly black body, set off by red wing mirrors, a red roof and red accents around the grille. The Red Edition is essentially the reverse. They get some sporty interior updates, too, like red stitching and sports seats.
Every Ford Fiesta gets air-conditioning, electric windows and a USB connection as standard, while the Zetec adds desirable extras such as a heated windscreen, leather steering wheel and trip computer. Ford also includes warm red ambient lighting, which helps give the cabin a classy feel at night. However, Ford charges an extra £200 for Bluetooth and a DAB radio on some models (£100 on others) – shameful, considering it’s standard on many rivals.
The Ford Fiesta is equally attractive inside, where you’ll find a neatly designed and logically laid-out dashboard. Quality is good, too, with decent fit and finish, plus plenty of soft-touch materials – although some of the plastics used in the lower half of the cabin are a little hard and scratchy.
The chunky rotary controls for the air-con are rugged, too, and would feel more
at home in an off-roader than in a city car. Blocky blue LCD displays in the Fiesta also look quite dated when compared to the colour screens and white-on-black read-outs found in newer rivals. There’s plenty of adjustment on the seat and steering wheel, so it’s easy for drivers to get comfortable.
The Fiesta has a reputation for delivering fun handling and an entertaining drive,
and it can still show its most recent competitors a thing or two about driver involvement.
The wide range of petrol engines available on the Ford Fiesta comprises of 60bhp and 82bhp versions of Ford’s proven 1.25-litre petrol unit, as well as the 99bhp 1.0-litre three-cylinder EcoBoost. Despite its downsized 1.0-litre capacity, this petrol engine's muscular 170Nm torque output provides confidence-inspiring overtaking pace and allows you to power up motorway inclines that would leave some of its rivals struggling.
The Red and Black Editions, with the 138bhp 1.0 EcoBoost engine are seriously impressive. Acceleration from 0-62mph takes just 9 seconds, with fuel economy of more than 60mpg. It works as a nice bridge between the 125PS Zetec S model and the full-blown ST.
Ford has also recently introduced a new non-turbocharged version of this three-cylinder engine to the Fiesta range - it costs less than the EcoBoost, but also has a lot less power, with 79bhp and a 0-62mph time of over 14 seconds. Still, even in this trim the engine is very refined, and surprisingly efficient, but you have to work the five-speed gearbox quite hard to keep it going.
Ford also offers the Fiesta with a dual-clutch automatic gearbox on Zetec, Zetec S and Titanium X models. These auto 'box cars are powered by the 1.0-litre EcoBoost unit or 1.6-litre Duratec petrol engine - it's just a shame that it doesn't take long to realise that the Ford gearbox is nowhere near as refined as the Volkswagen dual-clutch DSG unit.
The Ford Fiesta diesel models are even more efficient than their petrol counterparts – there’s a choice of a new 74bhp 1.5-litre TDCi and a 94bhp 1.6 TDCi. The 1.6-litre promises an economy of 85.6mpg with 87g/km emissions when fitted to the super-green Fiesta ECOnetic.
It’s the sharp chassis that shines brightest where the Ford Fiesta is concerned. The electrically assisted power-steering is beautifully weighted and direct, allowing you to place the agile Ford with pinpoint accuracy. Add in the strong grip, superb body control and slick gearshift, and the standard Ford Fiesta is as fun to drive as many hot hatches. The ST hot hatch version is even better.
The really good news surrounding the Ford Fiesta is that this nimble handling doesn’t come at the expense of comfort and refinement – except maybe in the ST. Big bumps and potholes are smoothed out by the supple suspension, while the interior is well insulated from wind and road noise. The ST tends to be much more uncomfortable and noisier, which is why the Red and Black Editions provide a nice middle ground. Although the little Ford EcoBoost engine emits a characterful thrum when extended, even this small petrol unit is pleasantly smooth and quiet at other times.
The Ford is a volume seller, but owner satisfaction levels are on the up. After placing 117th in our Driver Power 2013 satisfaction survey, it jumped to 78th in 2014, with drivers praising the handling, technology and ease of driving. There was a lower score for build quality, but considering Fiestas are churned out in their thousands every month, general quality is pretty good.
There are seven airbags as standard and it has tyre-pressure monitors, too. The Zetec version features Ford’s SYNC system with emergency assistance, which can call the emergency services in the event of a collision. Active City Stop, which detects the possibility of a low-speed collision, is available as a £200 option on Zetec models and above. The Fiesta’s relatively small wing mirrors are a minor gripe, though, as they can create large blind spots if they’re not adjusted precisely.
Despite its neat dimensions, the Ford Fiesta is a versatile choice, particularly in five-door form. However, it can’t match the clever packaging of roomy MPV-flavoured rivals like the Nissan Note and Honda Jazz for space and family-friendly practicality.
There Ford Fiesta gets adequate head and legroom for rear passengers, and lots of thought has gone into the interior, where you’ll find plenty of storage cubbies and a number of cup-holders.
Open the tailgate, and there’s a 290-litre boot when you stick with the standard repair foam; this drops to 276 litres if you specify the £100 space saver. With the seats down there are 974 litres to play with, but the high load lip and narrow tailgate mean the Fiesta has somewhat restricted versatility.
A supermini should be cheap to run and happily, the Ford Fiesta doesn’t disappoint. Prices start at around £10,000 with our favourite Zetec version weighing in at just £14,000. Better still, you should be able to haggle decent deals with your Ford dealer on most models.
Additionally, the stop-start-equipped Ford Fiesta EcoBoost emits less than 100g/km of CO2 – as do the ECOnetic diesels – meaning a tax disc will cost nothing. Our experts predict that the Ford Fiesta will hold on to its value reasonably well, with an estimated figure of 39.7 per cent after three years. As it’s Britain’s best-selling car, that’s not bad. Ford also offers a £550 pre-paid servicing pack, which covers scheduled maintenance for three years or 36,000 miles.